The Matchup: Coming off a thrilling two games to one series victory over Sacred Heart in the first round, the Bentley hockey team travels out to Colorado this weekend to take on Air Force in a best of three quarterfinals series. Games one and two are Friday and Saturday night, and game three if necessary, is Sunday night. Game times are 9:05 eastern each night.
Bentley, seeded No. 8 in the tournament, overcame a 0-1 deficit to Sacred Heart with a 5-2 victory in game two, and a dramatic 3-2 win in double overtime in game three. Freshman Ryner Gorowsky had the winner 30 seconds into the 2nd OT period. Goaltender Jayson Argue played a big part in the comeback as well. He made 30 saves in the game two win, and 29 in game three, including several huge saves in overtime.
Air Force, as the No. 2 seed, received a bye to the quarterfinals and was off last weekend. They will come into the weekend with a 22-9-5 overall record and are ranked No. 18 in this week's USCHO Division I poll.
The Playoffs: There are three other quarterfinal series this weekend. No. 1 seed Canisius hosts No. 11 seed Niagara, after the Purple Eagles upset No. 6 seed RIT in three games. No. 3 seed Army West Point hosts No. 7 seed Mercyhurst, after the Lakers swept the No. 10 seed AIC. Lastly, No. 4 seed Robert Morris welcomes No. 5 seed Holy Cross to Pittsburgh.
The four winners will converge the following weekend in Rochester at the Blue Cross Arena for championship weekend.
Series History vs. Air Force: This will be the 3rd time Bentley and Air Force will meet in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs, but the first time since 2009. The last time they met, was the last time Bentley advanced to Rochester for the semifinals. After defeating Canisius two games to one in the quarterfinals, Bentley was paired with Air Force in the semifinals, which Air Force won 3-0. They also met in the 2008 first round, which Air Force won two games to none.
The overall series is led by Air Force 26-12-6. However, Bentley has played well out in Colorado in recent seasons. Over the last eight games at Cadet Ice Arena, Bentley is 4-2-2, with at least one win in each of its last four trips.
Matchups This Season: Bentley and Air Force played two series in the regular season; the first in Colorado the weekend of Oct. 21, and the second at the JAR the weekend of Feb. 3. The first series resulted in a split, with Air Force winning the first game 5-2, and Bentley the second, 6-1. In the Bentley win, captain Max French scored just 21 seconds into the game, as part of a two goal night for him. Kyle Schmidt, Jonathan Desbiens, Andrew McDonald and defenseman Connor Brassard (shorthanded) had goals as well.
In the series at the JAR, Air Force swept by scores of 6-1 and 5-1. Ryner Gorowsky had the goal in each game for Bentley.
- Bentley had lost its previous four overtime games in the postseason. Sunday's game three win over Sacred Heart broke that streak.
- Bentley has now played in five double OT games in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs era. They now have a 3-2 record.
- Max French's hat trick in the 5-2, game two win, was the second hat trick by a Bentley player this season. Jonathan Desbiens had the other, in a 6-3 win at RIT on Jan. 28.
- French's hat trick was the 5th by a Bentley player in the Atlantic Hockey playoffs. The others were by Derek Bacon (2016 1st round vs. SHU), Kyle Schmidt (2015 QF vs. Mercyhurst), Jeff Gumaer (2009 QF vs. Canisius) and Brendan McCartin (2004 QF vs. Mercyhurst).